Over the summer, while on holiday with my family in Montreal, I came to a realization — an "aha! moment," as Oprah would call it. It was such a profound moment for me that I simply had to document it. Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love food. I love food more than anything else — truly — so going out to restaurants is possibly one of my favourite things to do. Even though I am a vegetarian and not the most adventurous eater, I like to think of myself as a foodie.
Cue children. Seven years ago, my first child was born. Now, with three kids in tow, fun dining out in restaurants seems like a distant memory. Sure, my hubby and I get a sitter every now and then to eat out, and I try go out to dinner with my girlfriends on the odd occasion. However, the experience of eating out, trying new restaurants and tasting new things has changed drastically for me since having kids.
It didn't have to change — loads of people I know take their kids along to restaurants, and they often invite us or ask me why we don't do the same. And yes, we have tried a number of times, and for some reason it just doesn't work.
I often dissect the reasons why it doesn't work in the hopes that I can pinpoint the issue, tweak something in our method and magically all will be good in the land of eating out. A million ideas and suggestions flow through my mind, like how I can bribe the kids with dessert; maybe I should get them to nap in the afternoon?; perhaps I'll give in and let them watch the iPad; what if I tell them that if they behave, we will take them out to eat again?" and so on... I get exhausted just thinking about it.
My brain was exhausted from thinking of bribes, comments and punishments for the kids. I was done.
I also wonder if it's the type of restaurant we go to — will that make a difference? Maybe a kid-friendly menu, a place with big TV screens, the right kind of ambiance, somewhere close to home? And every time we try, I come to the same conclusion — it just doesn't work for us. The kids can't sit still, they don't eat their food, they run around, climb under the table — they don't listen when we ask them to do something. Yes, they are "those" kind of kids in restaurants. And I am "that mom" — the mom that gets the eye from others, that mom that gets flustered and that mom that eventually can't help but lose it.
So, what was different last time when we took our kids out to eat while on our summer vacation? All was the same as usual — they misbehaved somewhat and simply didn't listen. I wolfed down my food between barking orders at the kids. I tried to hold some decent adult conversation with friends, tried to hold it together — but my nerves were fried. My patience was non-existent and my brain was exhausted from thinking of bribes, comments and punishments for the kids. I was done.
Then we returned to the hotel. I felt defeated, sad, angry and embarrassed. I apologized to my husband — my sweet, relaxed, calm and accepting husband. He said it was OK, but I knew it wasn't. My behaviour was not OK. Never mind the kids' behaviour, the way I ended up acting that night was worse than any child in a restaurant.
And that's when it hit me... I am just not built for it. I simply cannot handle it. I am not that kind of parent. It sounds simple, but the realization was profound. In that moment, I felt all the mommy guilt disappear, and all the suggestions, thoughts, bribes and fantasies of it all figuring itself out — just fade away. Why was I being so hard on myself? For what? For who?
I'm not built for it. There, I said it. Now I can accept that fact and just move on with my life. How refreshing, how empowering, how liberating... Now that tastes good.
A version of this blog originally appeared on momjo.ca. Liat Horovitz and Carolina Rzeznikiewiz are the co-founders of Momjo — a social media community that helps busy moms around the world reignite their passions, curiosity and individuality. Join them on their video blogging journey on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
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